Academic Medicine Member Cameo: Elaine Lee

Who: Elaine Lee Ph. D, Proposal Development Grant Strategist
Where: Boston University School of Medicine
Number of Years in RD: 2.5
Length of NORDP Membership: 2

What’s your history in RD? When and how did you enter the field? What kind of RD work do you do?Elaine Lee headshot-bw-1024x1024.png

After I finished my Ph.D. and postdoc in Biomedical Engineering, I began looking for traditional academic research professor jobs. During the course of my search, I realized I did not enjoy the repetitiveness of research and I needed more frequent and concrete deadlines. In undergrad, I had matriculated as an English major and worked at a scientific publications department at a hospital, so I started looking for jobs that married the two fields, like scientific editing, and ran across some consulting work and positions for grant writing. I have always enjoyed the idea generation aspect of research, and I am glad to have found a way to help people tell their own stories related to their research ideas.

I started at the Boston University School of Medicine in 2017 and currently serve as the Grant Strategist, assisting faculty with proposal development. I help new faculty, particularly ones for who English is not a first language. I assist them in shaping and crafting their scientific narratives as well as filling in logic gaps in their proposals.

What makes working at an academic medicine institution unique?

We work with clinicians who have to bring in funds from seeing patients in addition to their research responsibilities. As a result, we compete for their time to dedicate to research. They want to do things in a particular way according to a particular formula because that is the way they have been trained and have always done things, but research doesn’t follow a linear path. Many of them also have not formally been trained in how to formulate hypotheses. They have ideas about what they want to do, but they struggle with trying to scientifically justify and explain why it is necessary to research the problem and how they will perform a study or experimental design.

What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization (committee work, conferences attended/presented)?

I joined NORDP prior to the 2018 conference and shortly thereafter learned about and joined the Academic Medicine Committee led by Heather McIntosh. I also joined the Phase II NROAD initiative led by Samar Sengupta this past year.

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP (new colleagues, connections to institutions where you previously had no point of contact)?

I have engaged with many colleagues throughout the Midwest and West Coast as a result of my involvement with NORDP. Joanna Downer has been a lifeline for me and she has shared her perspective on how to deal with challenges that I have faced, especially those unique to medical schools. I have also forged strong bonds with Heather McIntosh and Krista Kezbers through the Academic Medicine Committee’s efforts.

How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

NORDP has given me a great deal of confidence as I have learned that many of us are having similar experiences as we forge a path through this new field. It has provided me a way to get instant feedback from RD professionals going through the same struggles. It has also been nice to be able to crowdsource materials like the NROAD guide created by Samar. I hope to be able to use that as groundwork to expand our operation here at Boston University.

How do you see that NORDP functions as a resource for RD professionals coming from academic medicine contexts?

We work with a population that is very checklist minded. NORDP can provide guidance on how to help faculty without doing all of the work for them. It can also help you to determine when to let them face things without you and move beyond hand holding. NORDP can also help you strategize how to involve your higher ups to get their buy in when you are pitching your plans to your home institution.

What recommendations do you have for members – particularly RDPs working in an academic medicine setting — to get more involved with NORDP?

I would say to find something that aligns with your duties and jump in! My committee involvement has truly helped me learn my role in academic medicine and allowed me to now share my experience to help others. The interactions with like-minded people who  know what you are going through has been extremely helpful. I encourage you to check out the Academic Medicine Special Interest group to see if it might work for you!

The Academic Medicine Special Interest Group was created in 2018 with the goal of providing resources and professional development opportunities for research development professionals (RDPs) working with clinician-researchers/educators in an academic medicine or affiliated medical center setting. Often times, RDPs working with clinical faculty face unique challenges including working with researchers who have less formal research training and less protected time to conduct research. With this in mind, our group meets monthly via Zoom to discuss the challenges and successes we face working in this research environment. If you are interested in joining our group, please contact Heather McIntosh at You can also join our Circle, Academic Medicine/Affiliated Medical Center.

Compiled by Daniel Campbell, Member Services Committee

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.

A Message from NORDP’s President

Dear NORDP members,

As October has arrived I want you to know that your Board has been hard at work for you. The Board of Directors met in-person for two days in September where we took your priorities and feedback from surveys and interviews and drafted a Strategic Plan. It was exhausting, but a lot of fun, too! Now, the Board is working to iron out a few details of the Strategic Plan and is putting together a budget process to work with it.NORDP StratPlan

What is next?

The Board will be voting on approving the Strategic Plan this month! Once the Strategic Plan is finalized, we will organize a meeting with all leadership and committee co-chairs to explain the new budgeting process that will allow us to operationalize the Strategic Plan objectives. Then we will share the plan with the entire membership, setting it in motion.

We are so excited to kick this off! Stay tuned and be on the lookout for more information soon.

Thank you for your membership! Please check out and answer our latest poll – as we are in the midst of conference abstract season – to let us know what you think: “What topics are you most interested in seeing as conference presentations?” You can access it here.

Karen “Fletch” Fletcher
NORDP President

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.

Pacific Region VII Conference this Month! Still time to Register

Don’t miss the 2019 NORDP Pacific Regional Meeting in Davis, CA from October 24 to October 25, 2019. Register today.

We are “Leveraging Strengths in the West: Diversity, Excellence, and Partnership” during this 1st regional conference to extend your network, establish new partnerships, and learn best practices, processes, and more from research development colleagues from across the Western region.

This two-day conference event offers a regional setting and location to learn about:

  • 2019 NORDP national annual conference RD presentations and trends;
  • Key perspectives for long-term sustainability of RD operations;
  • Insights into current practices and strategies for complex proposal development;
  • Opportunities to enhance regional engagement and research collaborations; and
  • Career guidance and knowledge-sharing for professional development.

You do not need to be a NORDP member to attend. The meeting welcomes participants from all of Region VII, encompassing Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon, Washington, British Columbia, Eastern Russia, Korea, Japan, Philippines, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries east of China.

The conference registration includes program materials, breakfast, lunch, and refreshment breaks on both days. An optional, no-host dinner sign-up will be offered on Day 1. The cost to attend both days is $111.

The agenda and more information regarding the event can be found at the following link,

See you this month!

Region VII Meeting
Planning Subcommittee

NORDP 2019 Conference Notes: They’re doing WHAT!?! Intelligence Gathering in Higher Ed

Slides: They’re doing WHAT!?! Intelligence Gathering in Higher Ed


  • Karen Walker, Arizona State University
  • Jamie Welch, Arizona State University
  • Linda Galloway, Elsevier

Thanks to our session scribe!

Five key points from the session:

  • ASU’s RD office includes a full-time person in charge of “competitive intelligence.“
  • ASU defines competitive intelligence as the “ethical collection and analysis of information to anticipate competitive activity, see past market disruptions and dispassionately interpret events.”
  • ASU RD staff works with Elsevier’s Scival to identify areas of strength, then continues to study these strengths and prepares documents to help faculty maximize these strengths and build collaborations.
  • SciVal allows researchers and administrators to visualize research performance, benchmark relative to peer institutions, develop strategic partnerships, identify and analyze new, emerging research trends, and create uniquely tailored reports.
  • ASU’s RD tagline is “Knowledge Enterprise Development.”

What did you hear at this presentation that surprised you?

ASU’s investment in publications that provide details on priority areas for the university.

What resources did you discover at this presentation?

What else from this session should NORDP members know?

Successful institutions take time and invest to support faculty and build capacity.

New NORDP Board Member Cameo: Kim Littlefield

Kim Littlefield is one of two new appointed NORDP Board Members in 2019. We thank Kim for her service to NORDP!

Who: Kim Littlefield, Ph.D., Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement
Where: University of North Carolina Greensboro
Number of Years in RD: 23, formally aware of activities as research development, 9
Length of NORDP Membership: 7 years

When and how did you enter the field? What kind of RD work do you do?Littlefield 2019

I entered the field as a cardiovascular physiologist researcher. From the start of my career, my intellectual pursuits led me to develop experiential breadth not so much discipline – specific depth which is exactly the opposite skill set that one needs to become a competitive, successful academic, biomedical scientist. Letting go of what the scientific community defines as a “successful scientist” freed me to develop my research development talents. My research development work is best characterized as research advocacy at all levels: individual, unit, enterprise, local, regional and national. As my career has developed, I’ve experienced a necessary shift in the amount of effort I commit towards research advocacy in the unit, enterprise and community levels but still one of the best things about my job is being able to talk with a researcher/scholar directly about their research.

What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization (committee work, conferences attended/presented)?

I’ve presented a pre-conference workshop and have been engaged with the NORD committee for the last couple of years.

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP (new colleagues, connections to institutions where you previously had no point of contact)?

New colleagues and connections to institutions where I previously had no point of contact, certainly, but one of the nicest developments has come through strengthening professional and personal relationships with colleagues who overlap in other professional associations such as APLU, especially the Council on Research and COGR.

What are you most excited about as a board member?

I’m excited to apply my research advocacy talents in service of this incredible organization and its constituency.

Compiled by Daniel Campbell, Member Services Committee

A press release announcing both new board members can be found here: 2019 NORDP Board appointment release

NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession.

PUI Member Cameo: Jennifer Glass

As an organization, NORDP fosters a culture of inclusive excellence by actively promoting and supporting diversity, inclusion, and equity in all its forms to expand our worldview, enrich our work, and elevate our profession for decades to come.  

To further enable a richly diverse and robust national peer network of research development professionals as well as organizational representation, we are highlighting members from primarily undergraduate institutions (PUIs) in a new blog series.

Our first cameo introduces Jennifer Glass. 

Who: Jennifer Glass, Ph. D. – Research Development Officer
Where: Office of Research Development & Administration, Eastern Michigan University
Number of Years in RD: 5
Length of NORDP Membership: 5 years

What’s your history in RD? When and how did you enter the field? What kind of RD work do you do?Glass Photo - 2019.jpg

I have been in RD for 5 years. Before jumping into RD, I was a research faculty member at the University of Michigan, where I studied the effects of factors like age, drug use, and chronic pain on attention and cognition. My position at UM was broken up across several departments, which was fun and interesting, but it became a problem when funding was short. In 2014, Eastern Michigan University was advertising for a Research Development Officer. I did not know what that was, but I read the job description and knew I could do all of the things listed, so I applied!

At EMU, I helped to create a faculty grant writing fellowship. It involves a semester long grant writing seminar that I lead, where the faculty fellows work on honing their specific aims (or equivalent) and sketch out the framework for the rest of their proposals. The seminar has a mix of formal workshop presentations (some by me, and some by outside  consultants) and peer writing sessions. I think both are crucial to helping faculty become adept grant writers. We also make a trek to Washington D.C. to meet with program officers. In addition to the fellowship, I conduct workshops, publish a weekly update   with grant funding news and opportunities, publish regular award reports, plan social events (e.g., research happy hours, celebration picnics), and work one-on-one with faculty.

How do you see RD as being different/similar between a predominately undergraduate institutions (PUIs) and more research-intensive university?

I think that RD can be extremely impactful at PUI. It can also be very different than at a   research intensive institution, where RD professionals are more likely to specialize. At a  PUI, you have to help with all kinds of proposals and in some cases also help with research administration. Personally, I enjoy wearing lots of hats, so it works for me. I also really enjoy working with the faculty here. They are passionate about their research, but with the high teaching loads that come with a PUI job, they struggle to find time to write proposals and might get discouraged that they can never be successful. My job is to help where I can, and empower faculty to put together a competitive proposal. It is very fulfilling to help with the research endeavors at EMU because they are so critical to the quality of education that students receive here.

What’s your history with NORDP? How have you engaged with the organization (committee work, conferences attended/presented)?

When I was hired at EMU, my supervisor (Caryn Charter) knew about NORDP and encouraged me to join. So I have been a member since late 2014, and have attended each conference since 2015. I have been involved with the Mentoring Committee for several years and have been (and currently am) both a mentor and a mentee. Last year, I became the chair of the newly organized Affinity Group for PUI’s, which is really exciting because there are quite a few of us, and we have independently been doing a lot of the same RD activities. We have a nice list of activities to tackle in the coming years, such as   a white paper documenting RD at PUI’s, PUI focused presentations at the conference, help with recruiting to NORDP, to name a few. I also sit on the Inclusive Excellence Committee. This is really interesting for me because there is so much to learn about inclusiveness and it is more important than ever.

What relationships have you built as a result of NORDP (new colleagues, connections to institutions where you previously had no point of contact)?

Through mentoring and committee work, I have met many talented people, and RD folks are very helpful and friendly. Some work at large institutions, and some at small institutions. The affiliation through NORDP makes it easy to reach out to people at places where I previously would not have known anyone.

How has your service to NORDP enhanced your career?

NORDP has certainly enhanced my career, since I started out not knowing what RD was! Even just looking at the website listing of RD activities was helpful as I began my job at EMU. The conferences are full of really good information and I always go back with some new ideas and fresh enthusiasm. The webinars are a great source of information, and the list serve is really amazing. If you ever have a question, just put it out there and within hours if not minutes, you will have great input and insight.

How do you see that NORDP functions as a resource for RD professionals coming from PUI contexts?

Because of the ways that RD at a PUI is different (e.g., multifaceted, jack of all trades) I think that everything that NORDP has to offer is doubly valuable to RD at PUIs. You might not have a colleague across campus who is an expert on Department of Energy (or fill in your favorite here) funding, but someone at NORDP will be there to answer your questions!

What recommendations do you have for members – particularly PUI members – to get more involved with NORDP?

For anyone, the best way to get more involved is to join a committee. If you are from a PUI, then also join the PUI Affinity Group!

Compiled by Daniel Campbell, Member Services Committee

NORDP 2019 Conference Notes: Effective Meeting Facilitation, Parts One and Two

Slides: Facilitating Innovative Research 


  • Donnalyn Roxey, Knowinnovation
  • Andy Burnett, Knowinnovation

Thanks to our session scribe, Christina Howard, Texas A&M University!

As research development professionals, how can we make meetings more interesting, productive, and effective? How do we promote creative thinking? At the Effective Meeting Facilitation workshop, we entered the room to find an array assortment of squishy ducks, Slinkys, and other fidget toys on chairs throughout the room. The presenters used these along with a variety of engaging means to generate ideas and discussion among audience members. They emphasized: When designing a meeting it is important to consider what type of environment might facilitate creativity, and to recognize that different creative preferences can still achieve similar outputs.

Effective Meeting Facilitation, Part One

The focus was on the various dimensions of a creative climate and on specific ways RD professionals can encourage and facilitate each of these. Dimensions include: dynamism and liveliness; freedom; risk taking; playfulness and humor; idea time; idea support; trust and openness; conflict; debate; and challenge.

Tips for the RD professional

Some practical ways to encourage dynamism and liveliness are to move people around: get them talking to new people or interacting in new ways. For example, hold a meeting in a new or different location. One way to incorporate playfulness and humor is to allow for “mind wandering” through the use of fidget toys.

Assist with providing idea time and idea support by leveling the playing field: making sure everyone’s ideas are heard, deferring judgment (both positive and negative), and separating out divergence from convergence by listening to all ideas before reviewing and matching them with goals and objectives. Additionally, allowing time for ideas to incubate (i.e., thinking and regrouping) is critical rather than trying to cram everything all into one meeting.

Some suggestions to make meeting environments more creative were using fidget toys, holding meetings off-campus, using sticky notes, process mapping, adding a little bit of “interest” to the meeting space (i.e. in the form of potted plants).

Effective Meeting Facilitation, Part Two

The focus was on strategies for conducting virtual meetings effectively. Virtual collaboration can decrease our carbon footprint and increase affordability… if it works. There are multiple ways to collaborate virtually across space (i.e. Zoom), time (i.e. bulletin boards, computer screens for asking and answering questions), or a combination of both (i.e. Google Docs).

Tips for the RD professional

Ideas labs use a combination of virtual and face-to-face meetings to engage individuals. Have everyone participate virtually in an initial “ideas lab.” This can help gauge who will engage – and who should be present at the table in a face-to-face meeting.

Randomized coffee talks” (RCTs). These have the goal of getting people together who might otherwise never meet or interact, and provide them with a small incentive for doing so (i.e. coffee). For example, RCTs could be a good pre-meeting exercise to help meeting participants engage with each other prior to a larger proposal meeting.

An important factor to consider when organizing a virtual meeting is the length of time, in part because the cognitive load is larger in a virtual space than in a physical space. One way to alleviate this would be to schedule shorter meeting times with longer breaks in between when planning a virtual meeting. Also, encouraging meeting participants to go to an alternate location for the virtual meeting (rather than just sitting in their offices) may help participants engage more fully rather than treating the virtual meeting as if they were watching a virtual webinar.

Regardless of the meeting format (in-person or virtual), however, accessibility is key. The presenters emphasized that either all-physical or all-virtual meetings tend to work more effectively than a mix of the two (part virtual and part in-person).

Together, these two workshops provided valuable ideas and resources for helping meeting participants fully engage, whether the meeting is held in-person or virtually. KnowInnovation ( has a number of resources that can help with making meeting environments more creative, including tools, blogs, drop-ins, a virtual idea board, and an email short course on creativity and skill development, as well as another email short course on creative thinking and problem-solving.